Former Czech president Václav Klaus has described his late predecessor and political rival Václav Havel as having the mentality of a “reform communist”. In an interview carried in Mladá fronta Dnes, Mr. Klaus said Mr. Havel had hated political parties and been fundamentally opposed to the free market. He said his then party the Civic Democrats’ support for Mr. Havel in repeated presidential elections had been a “necessary evil”. Saturday’s interview comes less than three weeks before the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in which Václav Havel, who died in 2011, led Czechoslovakia to democracy after over four decades of communist rule.
Life expectancy in the Czech Republic has risen markedly since the fall of communism 25 years ago, the Czech News Agency reported. Life expectancy for men has increased from 68 to 75 years and for women from 75 to 81 years. Seniors make up over 17 percent of the population, compared to just below 13 percent in 1989, while the old age pensions are now 10 percent higher in real terms. Life expectancy has also risen in Slovakia, but less than in the Czech part of the former federal state, the Czech News Agency said.
The Czech Republic has sent over CZK 3.5 million worth of aid to Liberia, which is one of the West African countries affected by the Ebola crisis. The aid takes the form of protective clothing, disinfectant gel and other supplies; it is being delivered by a Dutch ship and will be distributed by Save the Children International. The government approved the move at the start of October.
Unions at the agency that oversees communist era secret police files and other documents have written to the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, in connection with the planned layoff of around a fifth of its staff, Novinky.cz reported on Saturday. Representatives of three of the five unions at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes asked the minister to halt steps taken by its management, saying they were financially unsound. The redundancies are due to come into effect in April.
Police evacuated around 400 people from their homes in the village of Dolní Lutyně in Silesia on Saturday afternoon after a digger driver discovered an unexploded bomb that was dropped by a plane during WWII. The bomb, which weighed 100kg, was buried two metres under the earth. The local major said it had likely been there since an Allied air raid on the nearby Bohumín in September 1944.
A newly opened office and shopping complex above Národní třída metro station in Prague has been fitted with artworks by the well-known Czech sculptors David Černý and Maxim Velčovský. A small “square” by the Quadrio building is now adorned by a 39-tonne moving statue of Franz Kafka produced by Černý at a cost of CZK 30 million. Velčovský has created a large glass piece for the foyer of the complex which occupies a previously open space in the downtown area.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has qualified for the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals for the fifth time in a row. Berdych, who is 29, assured himself of one of the eight places available after overcoming Kevin Anderson of South Africa to reach the last four of an indoor tournament in Paris. He lost in the semi-finals to Canada’s Milos Raonic, 3-6 6-3 5-7. The World Tour Finals get underway in London on November 9.